Reshaping rural health policy in South Australia was not the only thing on the agenda when Liberal Party and state opposition leader Steven Marshall visited Port Pirie last week.
Mr Marshall unveiled his party’s $1 million South Australian Healthy Town Challenge policy while also visiting the Nyrstar smelter “transformation” site and meeting Port Pirie Regional Council representatives.
The health policy - which would operate over a four-year term of government - is part of a broader health-care scheme which Mr Marshall said will support community-wide health and prevention services.
Under the plan, groups will link with non-government organisations to seek five grants worth up to $50,000 each year.
Mr Marshall said the policy would give rural communities more control over their health-care needs and is in addition to previously-announced plans to reintroduce country health boards to six regions.
Mr Marshall was impressed with the smelter upgrade progress and said it would create many economic opportunities across the region.
Despite holding an optimistic outlook for Port Pirie and the region, he was critical of Independent Member for Frome Geoff Brock’s decision to vote against the Liberal Party’s Bill to hold an open inquiry into SA Health’s management of the Oakden aged care home.
He said South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon – who plans to run a candidate in Frome in response to Mr Brock’s vote – and the Liberal party were equally disappointed with Mr Brock’s decision.
“Bruce Lander, the independent commissioner against corruption, made it very clear that he needed open public hearings for the Oakden scandal,” he said.
Mr Brock, a cabinet minister, said that the Oakden scandal was an “utter disgrace” and needed to be investigated quickly. He said he had voted against the Liberal Party’s bill due to concerns for witnesses’ well-being.
“I was concerned that people giving evidence in an open chamber would be hounded by the media and have unfair stigma attached to them,” Mr Brock said.
“I have full confidence in Mr Lander and the report will be made public once the investigation is finalised.”
Liberal candidate for Frome Cr Kendall Jackson did not think the introduction of a new candidate would make it more difficult for her to win the seat.
Mr Marshall would not be drawn on whether his party would work with Mr Brock to gain power in a hung parliament.
“We are solely focused on having Mrs Jackson as the Member for Frome and forming majority government,” he said.